BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - License plate readers are a high-tech tool that instantly alert police to a potential problem, and every department News 4 contacted says this new tool is worth the investment.
The plate readers quickly pay for themselves in the form of arrests and finding those with outstanding fees, fines and warrants.
While riding with Cheektowaga Police Officer Jennifer Hodgson, she gets a beep from the plate reader that lets her know a driver has a suspended registration. The plate readers are attached to the patrol car and scan license plates as they pass in front of the cameras.
The information received by the plate readers is cross-checked with a database that is updated daily.
Cheektowaga Police Captain Jim Speyer explained, "You get a hit on a suspended registration or if the registered owner is suspended. If they didn't pay their insurance. If there's outstanding tickets, outstanding fines that they haven't paid."
When the plate readers first came on the scene, they were priced at around $25,000. Officer Hodgson says the technology has made her job a lot easier.
"Instead of trying to look down all the time, and trying to run a plate, this will run it for me as traffic is going by," she said.
Kenmore Police are also using plate readers. Officer Alan Fell says in addition to enforcing vehicle and traffic laws, the technology is a great investigative tool.
"You can go back in that database and look and see if that plate was run by a reader or if it's out there, where it was at that time and date," Officer Fell explained.
And the technology pays for itself.
Over a three-year period, Orchard Park Police had 880,000 scans in their plate readers, resulting in 251 arrests for suspended registrations, 56 arrests for suspended licenses, 206 vehicle and traffic infractions and nine other arrests. That's a total of 522 tickets just from the plate readers.
Orchard Park Police Chief Mark Pacholic said, "I think it's gone up a substantial amount. I don't know if I can say double, ut it's gone up substantially."
Police in Orchard Park only have one unit and it has about run its course. Chief Pacholic says his department will soon be asking the town for a new one and he argues the results don't lie.
"It's absolutely well worth the investment," he stated.
Cheektowaga Police have also seen an increase in the number of stops, arrests and tickets because of plate readers.
Officer Hodgson said, "You get to stop more people because there's a lot more plates that this is running than I can possibly run myself."
Captain Speyer added, "It pays for itself in just solving crimes, and getting these drivers off the road."
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